businessman stressed and overwhelmed with work problems

Mark Lyttleton: Mental Health Risks in the UK Workforce

Mark Lyttleton is an experienced speaker, angel investor, and business mentor.

In addition to providing business owners and entrepreneurs with strategic advice and financial support, Mark Lyttleton also offers personal advice, helping them deal with the stresses and personal challenges involved in launching and growing a successful business.

businessman stressed and overwhelmed with work problems

Mental Health Risks in Workforce

This article will explore the topic of mental health in the workplace, sharing strategies for employers to support colleagues experiencing mental health problems and ensuring that an employee who is struggling can access the help they need.

According to data gathered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for 2021 to 2022, stress, anxiety, and depression account for a staggering 51% of all recorded work-related illnesses in the UK.

The HSE report suggests that the rate of self-reported work-related stress, anxiety, and depression is now higher than pre-coronavirus levels, although the problem was already on the rise before the start of the pandemic.

Work-related mental health issues not only have a significant impact on workers themselves but also have serious implications from an employer’s perspective, impacting workplace productivity and ultimately impeding profitability.

In the space of just one year, the HSE report revealed that some 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety, and depression.

Figures published in the HSE report suggest that mental illness is having a significant impact on businesses and workforces and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future without intervention.

It is in the best interests of employees and businesses alike for employers to take a proactive approach to workplace mental health, putting in place frameworks for supporting colleagues who are struggling with mental health problems and helping them access the help they need.

The HSE Health and Safety at Work Summary Statistics for Great Britain report reveals that for the 2021 to 2022 period:

  • There were 900,000 cases of work-related stress, anxiety or depression
  • 372,000 workers suffered a new case of work-related stress, anxiety, or depression
  • The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were found to be a major contributory factor to the increase in incidences of work-related stress, anxiety, and depression
  • 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety, or depression

It is vital for employers to take active steps to protect the mental health of their employees, supporting workers who experience difficulties.

Not only does taking a proactive approach to workplace mental health reap significant benefits in terms of productivity and profitability but businesses also have a duty of care to the people who work there.

Prudent employers take steps to protect not just their staff’s physical well-being but also their mental health.

In spite of this, some 70% of employees in the UK say that they have experienced poor mental health due to their work, with 57% admitting that they have experienced poor mental health while working for their current employer.

According to Deloitte’s Mental Health and Employers report published in March 2022, for every £1 invested in workplace mental health, employers see an impressive ROI of £5.30.

In addition, data from the 2021/2022 Workplace Wellbeing Index suggests that employees who feel valued and supported are more productive, staying with the business for longer and delivering the best outcomes.

By law, if an individual’s mental health condition is considered a disability, employers have a legal responsibility to make reasonable adjustments to help them carry out their work without being at a disadvantage.

Forward-looking employers are increasingly investing in creating a supportive environment for workers where they feel they can talk openly about any mental health issues they may be experiencing to avoid problems building up.

This has a variety of benefits, including less absence from work due to poor mental health and improved morale in the workplace.

Employers should take proactive steps to create a supportive environment, taking the mental health of their employees just as seriously as their physical well-being.

Businesses must create an environment where workers feel safe and able to talk openly about mental health. T

o this end, employers can implement a variety of measures, chief among them ensuring that employees have regular meetings with managers to discuss any problems they may be experiencing.

Employers should also actively encourage positive mental health, for example, by arranging mental health workshops and training and appointing mental health champions that staff can talk to.

In terms of creating a supportive workplace environment, management, and business leaders should ensure they are available and approachable, presenting opportunities for team members to discuss any problems they may be having.

Management styles should cater to the individual needs of staff members, for example asking staff members who are working remotely whether they would rather connect via video meeting, email, or phone.

A manager may be apprehensive about approaching someone they suspect has a mental health problem.

However, in such circumstances, it is important to arrange a conversation as soon as possible.

The manager should ensure that any conversation is held in private, approaching the conversation in a positive way and demonstrating flexibility in terms of where and how the conversation is staged.

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